Writing Hedge Fund Cover Letters that Get Interviews
Your cover letter is as important as your resume and it deserves equal consideration. The cover letter is the first item seen by the hedge fund manager or partner reviewing your application. A poorly written or overly verbose letter will not be considered, and your resume will not be reviewed either. Therefore, it is essential that your first paragraph (you may only need one) appeal to the reader.
Before you begin writing, it is critical that you consider who will be reading your letter, what they are used to seeing, and what they expect to see.
Who is reading your letter?
Small firms (< $250M in AUM) are unlikely to have a dedicated human resources professional. Initial correspondence should be directed to the CEO, a partner, or managing director. Large firms (> $1B) will likely have an HR department that handles initial inquiries, though hiring decisions will be made by a team of senior partners. If you are addressing your letter to the CEO, it is well worth your time to do a little research. Maybe you are alumni of the same school? Maybe you had an internship with a firm he worked with for 10 years or you volunteer for an organization for which the CEO is on the board. If you can find some common perspective it will help your letter stand out. Just make sure not to address anything too personal (kids, spouses, politics etc).
What are hiring managers used to seeing in cover letters?
The letters hiring managers see all too often have a few distinguishing characteristics: they are lengthy, lack a call to action, are impersonal, and resemble a form letter. Avoid these mistakes at all costs.
Remember that the goal is to get your resume reviewed. If they aren’t interested enough to finish reading your letter, do you think they will have any interest in your background and qualifications? Brevity is your friend. Avoid any temptation to embellish your letter with large words or complex literary contraptions.
It is also very important to try to address the specific person in charge of hiring. For some firms you will be able to do your own research and find bios of the key people on the internet or from a business library. Our frequently updated hedge fund contact lists also supply an easy way to contact 3500+ hedge fund and private equity firms and provide specific contact info for key hiring managers (including address, phone, fax and email). Whatever your method, there is no surer way of getting your cover letter and resume tossed in the trash than to address it “Dear Sir” or “To Whom it May Concern”.
Have a call to action or take responsibility for that action yourself. Your cover letter should conclude by thanking the reader for reviewing your qualifications and ask for an interview. Many people, not wanting to be seen as pushy, don’t take the critical step of asking for the initial interview. The entire purpose of your letter and resume are to obtain an interview. You must ask for it. You might say something like this:
“Thank you for reviewing my qualifications. I will call you next week to discuss setting up a time to meet personally.”
Of course, if you take responsibility for initiating the conversation you must follow up as indicated.
For more detailed information on writing effective hedge fund or private equity cover letters, download our free e-book, Guide to Getting a Hedge Fund Job.